SouthWoods Center for Ecological Design Education and Training

Advanced Design Module 1: Site Assessment and Base Map

Start your tutorial project off by designing a site assessment base map.

Site Assessment is the key foundation of good designs. Understanding the state of the land and property, gives us insight to the possibilities for increased natural capital and resilient resources.

Base maps include: the buildings and hardscapes, existing foliage, structures, utility lines, topography, property lines, easements, soil data..everything.

All the relevant ecological data is displayed on the base map to guide the design process. It is a permanent record of the site conditions and outputs as a 24" x 36" or 36"x36" paper copy or PDF.

Using the basemap we are guided to align the lifestyle and resources of the land owners with the ecological functions of the land.

Fees for base maps vary based on the complexity and size of the site. Travel to the site is recommended and part of the continuing design process.

Prior to any base map work is the data collection of climate, soils, weather, topography and a long list of details we will need to accurately represent the ecology and existing conditions of the AOI (area of Interest).

The datatable template is included in all courses so students always have a clean copy to work with and add new items as needed.  Every project starts here (after the contract is signed and advance paid).

The table has all the sources of information linked for data mining. If you don't know what to do, you have not asked enough questions.  Here is 12 pages of questions to start, not including the 40 page client assessmnt guide for their site understanding and vision development. 

This is a good reason to start learning in pencil. Get fast at assessment data mining and the basemap and digital design will be much easier and intuitive. 



                     Also IncludedSoil Survey Inquiry         Sector Analysis Development        Topography and Water Movement



The finished base map includes all visible details needed to begin the design process.

The appearance of the map changes based on the prevailing site conditions.

The contents of the basemap are described in the site assessment narrative.

Patterns on the land; soils, topography, roads, paths, and land features, guide the design process.

We are free to learn and make mistakes in class that cost us time and money with paid projects.